Distance, Timing and all that jazz…

I’ll start by saying what follows is my opinion, my way of looking at things, my way of training and my way of fighting. It works for me, works for most of my students, but not all, and works in every context I found myself in so far. If you disagree , that’s good, as we need multiple paths to multiple destinations within martial arts. I am going to be talking about Timing and Distance , there are other elements just as important but if I bring in too much I will ramble on for  pages, so I’ll try to confine myself to these parameters.  It must also be noted that how important any element to martial arts is for you is very much dictated by your aims and your reason for doing martial arts in the first place. Anyway, let’s begin.

For me, the key to any fighting art is Timing and Distance. These two elements are the keys that unlock everything no matter the art, the weapon (extra or the ones you are born with), or the context. I tell my students a simple truth. If my timing and distance are perfect then any technique I try will work, if they are poor then no technique will work no matter how good I think it is. You could say get timing and distance correct and you can ignore everything else.  While this is not totally true it is a truism that imparts how important these concepts are.

This is one of the reasons why, for me, technique is way down the list of priorities when it comes to fighting and training for fighting. My aim is twofold (I teach HEMA so weapons are a HUGE part of what I do)…

Don’t get hit

Hit the other person,

As you can see if these are my goals for fighting then Timing and Distance are key and technique almost become inconsequential.  Now before the shouting begins notice I say almost, because, in reality, technique is important and is vital to keeping classes and fighting in general, interesting and fun. Plus if I have good technique on top of good timing and distance then my fighting becomes better and my options within a fight open up. There are other elements I concentrate on before technique like Body Mechanics, strategy, tactics etc , but we can discuss them another day.  Every time I teach and train technique it has two elements to it…

How to do the technique correctly to make it effective

How can I build the training of principles like timing and distance into my technique training.

The training of principles such as timing and distance can be repetitive and let’s face it dull, but it needs to be done and repeated over and over to enable it to be used well and in context, so keeping it front and centre of everything I do, makes the training more relevant, more fun, and much more useful. This does lead to another question though, even for us old hands….

What is Timing and what is Distance?

We all think we know the answer, even beginners do, and on the most part we do, but what it means , how we use it, and most importantly how we think about it are key to making it work. Like everything else within martial arts our thoughts on this subject will of course change over time, which is as it should be.

I was recently introduced to a different way of looking at all this and it has almost immediately changed how I train and how I fight.. It’s nothing new; it’s nothing magical, just a different way to think about it from what I had been using.  As always within martial arts it is much easier to impart ideas and information face to face but I’ll give it a go, I hope you can follow my train of thought but if not, please send me questions and I will try to answer them.

The concept of timing and distance is on the surface quite simple. If I control distance I keep myself from getting hit, if I control my timing I can hit my opponent at any time. While this is correct it’s not very useful and does not explain a great deal. I’ll take it almost everyone reading this will be a martial artist of some sort so I don’t think I need to go into great detail about how we use timing and distance and what it is for, but I will mention that it almost always involves more than we think if we only stopped to think about it a little more.

I was recently re-introduced to the works of a 16th Century military gentleman and commentator on the arts of personal combat,  ‘George Silver’ by a good friend Martin ‘Oz’ Austwick  from English Martial Arts who I must thank for working with me on understanding these principles and how to use them. (I’ll link to his YouTube channel and Facebook page at the bottom of the article). Within his works George talks about the…

‘The four grounds or principals of that true fight at all manner of weapons’.

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It was here that I found a much better way of thinking about and executing the principles of timing and distance. His four grounds are as follows…

  1. Judgment,
  2. Distance,
  3. Time,
  4. Place.

George goes on to explain these ideas and their importance…..

‘The reason whereof these 4 grounds or principals be the first and chief, are the following, because through judgment, you keep your distance, through distance you take your time, through time you safely win or gain the place of your adversary, the place being won or gained you have time safely either to strike, thrust, ward, close, grip, slip or go back, in which time your enemy is disappointed to hurt you, or to defend himself, by reason that he has lost his place, the reason that he has lost his true place is by the length of time through the numbering of his feet, to which he is out of necessity driven to that will be agent.’

The language and use of words is a little odd to our modern eyes, but not too much so we can’t gain their meaning with some work and effort. I say this as on first reading and through our modern brain filters you could be fooled into thinking you understand all he says here and it’s quite clear and simple. You could be correct of course but for many that is a trap that can lead you down a very different road of understanding from the intended one. But to keep it simple let’s look at his four grounds.

It must be said that although George Silvers works primarily deal with weapons of all types I will add that his basic principles hold true for unarmed as well as armed combat. We can look at his ‘Grounds’ in turn and I’ll try to explain my understanding of them. George begins with Judgment as it underpins the other three but I will take my lead from Mr Austwick and start with Distance.

  1. Distance

When looking into the works of George Silver it becomes apparent that when he talks about Distance he is actually talking about two concepts not one. Being IN Distance and being OUT of Distance. Using this idea you can see that at any point in time during an engagement  you and your opponent will be either in distance or out of distance. For George being in Distance is when your opponent can strike you without taking a step.

This concept is key and if you watch enough fight/ comp videos you will see people utilise this concept time and again, often without really breaking it down or fully understanding it.  Distance keeps us safe (Don’t get Hit), controlling distance allows us to control how your opponent strikes and when. This can confer a great advantage to you if you learn how to use it. Your hand can and does move faster than a brain and muscles can respond, this makes this concept deadly when mastered. This may seem like a bold claim but it is not. Go experiment with it, you will soon see what I mean.

To a fighter it means if you are caught in distance you can be hit faster than you can defend, but if you can control the distance then you can hit faster than they can respond. You can use your movement, your opponents movement or a combination of the two to make sure you are only IN Distance when you want to be, and ONLY when you want to be.

  1. Timing

Timing is simply performing the required action at the correct time, with enough speed to make it work. Another definition that sounds good but is not of much practical use. So I will go back to Mr George Silver to try to break it down and be a little more useful.

George first breaks timing down into two categories. True Time and False Time.

True Time is basically actions performed at the correct speed to make them work (mostly without the need to step).

False Time is actions that are slower and so are inherently flawed and mostly doomed to failure. (Mostly they need a step to work).

A little better but still not much practical use is it. George knows this and so he breaks it down further.

So George breaks it down further in 4 ‘Times’ for each, here are the True Times….

The time of the hand.
The time of the hand and body.
The time of the hand, body, and foot.
The time of the hand, body, and feet.

And here are the False Times….

The time of the foot.
the time of the foot and body.
the time of the foot, body, and hand.
the time of the feet, body, and hand.

You may have spotted that the Tue Times involve the feet as well as the hand. Surely this goes against Georges teachings???  Well. No it doesn’t.  He advocates a false time is when the action RELIES on the movement of the foot or feet. His True times can involve a movement of the foot or feet AS LONG AS the action does not rely on that movement to be successful. Go experiment with it, you’ll find he is correct.

So we now have some definitions for Timing and Distance with some practical advice from someone much more qualified than me to speak on such matters. I simply take his words and try to interpret them into something that makes sense. You should try it to.

BUT what of his other two Grounds that make up this topic, Place and Judgment?  These can be a topic on their own but it would be remiss of me not to at least address them, so I will…

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  1. Place

When talking about Place George has this to say….

“Keep your distance & suffer not your adversary to win or gain the place(3) of you, for if he shall so do, he may endanger to hurt or kill you.

Know what the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.

It may be objected against this last ground, that men do often strike & thrust at the half sword & the same is perfectly defended, where to I answer that the defence is perfectly made by reason that the warder has true space before the striker or thruster is in force or entered into his action.”

There is more but this gets the basic idea across. Being in the correct place can be thought of as target specific.. While being the correct distance to strike is very important, you  need ask “Strike What”?  What is your target, what is your goal? Being in the correct Place allows you to complete your desired action while not allowing your opponent to complete his. This can be a large and important area of discussion but let me give a small and pretty silly example to try to explain.

Stand at the correct distance from another person so you can hit their head without moving your feet. This is the ideal distance and Place to complete that action. Now turn around and face away from your opponent. You are still in the correct distance but boy are you now totally in the wrong place.. Play with it, have fun, go study Mr Silver for more insights into how to train and use it.

4. Judgment

Let’s go straight to what the great man has to say about this….

“The first governor is judgment which is to know when your adversary can reach you, and when not, and when you can do the like to him, and to know by the goodness or badness of his lying, what he can do, and when and how he can perform it.

He goes on to say…

“First when you come into the field to encounter with your enemy, observe well the scope, evenness and unevenness of your ground, put yourself in readiness with your weapon, before your enemy comes within distance, set the sun in his face traverse if possible you can, still remembering your governors.

Let all your lying be such as shall best like yourself, ever considering out what fight your enemy charges you, but be sure to keep your distance, so that neither head, arms, hands, body, nor legs be within his reach, but that he must first of necessity put in his foot(1) or feet, at which time you have the choice of 3 actions by which you may endanger him & go free yourself.”

Judgment gathers in all we have discussed plus your awareness of surroundings, environment, your opponent, their movement, demeanor etc. It is to remind you to use all available information to gain you the advantage, constantly assessing and reassessing at every moment. This may be obvious but sometimes the obvious gets over looked or not studied correctly.

I hope you have enjoyed  reading my thoughts and ideas on these matters and I hope they will be a some use. I assume some will agree and some will disagree, all ideas and comments are welcome. Thank you for reading and keep up the good work folks.

Links ….

Duncan McEvoy

mcevodf@yahoo.com

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=324942460949021&ref=content_filter

Martin Austwick

https://www.youtube.com/user/EnglishMartialArts

https://www.facebook.com/EnglishMartialArtsAcademy/?fref=ts

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Duncan has been studying and teaching HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) for 17 years. He started at the Royal Armouries in Leeds in 2000 and after a few years training created his own group in Liverpool. Duncan has spent many years training with as many different martial arts groups as possible to gain a wide knowledge of fighting arts including spending time with groups in Israel and the USA.
This included spending time with the teachers of arts such as Krav Maga, Escrima, Boxing, Aikido, Sambo, Fencing, Tae Kwon Do, Wrestling, Pugilism and many more. He continues to cross train as much as possible. This is to aid his study of the Historical European fighting arts.
In his own group Duncan teaches all manner of weapons including Longsword, Arming Sword, Staff, Sword and Buckler, knife etc. At the moment he is studying the works of George Silver in particular. His Group now trains regular on the outskirts of St Helens, a town near Liverpool.

It’s good to talk…Communication in Martial Arts.

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It’s good to talk right? Throughout our daily lives we are constantly in communication with people through both verbal and non-verbal means. With the growing emergence of the internet, more and more people are communicating via the means of social media and email and while this is obviously a positive thing, it can lead to a decrease in actually communicating with each other face to face.

Communication is of vital importance – especially in the martial arts.

During class we train with our partner and communication is a must! Is the technique feeling effective? Are you going too hard on them? Are they uncomfortable. Being a good training partner is all about effective communication and knowing how far you can push each other. You wouldn’t train with the same intensity with someone who had only been training a couple of weeks, compared to a long standing training partner you’ve trained with for years would you?

The same can be said for communicating with your instructor. Especially in the traditional martial arts, there is sometimes an unwritten or unspoken rule that what the instructor says…goes. While in many instances, this can be the case as they have more experience or training that you do, communication is still vital with your instructor.

It can be too easy sometimes to perhaps have a bad lesson, or series of lessons, and instead of communicating honestly and openly with your instructor, turn to other martial artists perhaps in the forms of social media or email, asking for their advice.

Your instructor is your instructor for a reason and you need to be honest with them if you feel you aren’t getting what you need from training. This can only be done through effective communication. Speak to your instructor, air your concerns and let them respond accordingly.

It may be that you feel you aren’t being pushed enough physically in class and finding the material too easy. A simple conversation with your instructor could mean that you then understand that that current lesson or week was focused more on technique or mechanics, and the following week was going to be a beasting session during the class once you had the technique. At that point you’d know there was a reason for your slower techniques and that it would pick up.

Black Belt Its good to talk...Communication in Martial Arts.

Communication is key.

Your instructor should be approachable, easy to speak to and discuss topics with. If they aren’t you perhaps need to reevaluate who you are training under and why they are so unwilling to share ideas or discuss topics – a my way or the high way scenario.

Failing to be able to provide a valid explanation as to drill or reasons for the way an instructor takes a class, on the most part shows perhaps an lack of confidence in themselves, the same way insecure instructors will only allow you to train at one club – theirs, and refuse to let you broaden your martial arts horizons.

Take all you can from the martial arts, learn everything you can and then make it your own. Your martial arts instructor or instructors are there to guide you on that path, not make you follow theirs.

Communicate with your instructor, speak to them face to face. Ask questions, understand how they work and in turn this will lead to a better relationship between the both of you. Be respectful, be open minded, but think for yourself.

Communication is key!

RELAUNCH!

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Okay everyone! So apologies for letting the blog slide a little as of late! Between running a full time martial arts school, getting in as much training as I can, training people up for instructors and getting the book Martial Masters Vol. 1 up and running at the beginning of the year, it’s been busy!

I am now back on track however and ready for a relaunch of the blog. However….

I need your help! What do you guys and girls want to see more of?

  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Techniques
  • General blogging
  • Experiences running a martial arts school?

Let me know and I shall do my best to provide!

We are also expanding the team and looking for some writers! So if you feel you have a knack for writing and have some stuff to say on anything martial arts, fitness or training related. Get in touch through here, or through Facebook! We’ll get you up and running on a successful(ish) blog!!

Look out for the next post and a little relaunch coming very soon!

99 ways to get a student – Matthew Chapman

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I’ve just finished Matthew Chapman’s new book `99 ways to get a student`and wow am I impressed. I was expecting good things I have read Matt’s other books both on business for martial arts school owners, as well as his excellent book on how to win your first MMA Fight and I wasn’t left disappointed. Clear concise and with action points you can take straight into your marketing plan to build your martial arts school!

It’s not surprising to see why Matt has a successful school after reading his books due to his thoughtful and insightful ways of getting a new student through the door and retaining them. His latest book lists over 99 ways to gain a new student focusing on both online and offline marketing. Online marketing is gone into in great detail, from SEO tricks to get you ranking higher on google, to online offers and promotions to get people through the door and enjoying the fun of martial arts. His offline content is just as good, with fantastic ways to gain a student from working with local businesses to establish yourself as the local expert in martial arts, to billboards or referral programs. All action points that can be implemented straight away!

I started reading the book then immediately stopped, grabbed a pen and paper and began reading again as I knew this was definitely a book where lots of notes would be taken to put into my monthly marketing plan. I recommend this book as an absolute must for anyone looking to grow their martial arts school or learn more about the martial arts business side. Easy to read, even easier to implement, this book is gold dust for those looking to step up their marketing.

Grab Matthew Chapman’s 99 ways to get a student here: bit.ly/99newstudents

The Defence Lab Virtual HQ!

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It’s no surprise that as Lead Instructor for Defence Lab Lincoln, I’m a pretty big fan of Defence Lab. I like the style, I like the evolution and I like founder Andy Norman’s motto of “work hard, be nice and be honest”. As a result of this I was pretty excited when I heard Defence Lab would soon be releasing their Virtual HQ! Well, that time has now arrived and on Tuesday 18th October, the Virtual HQ will be going live!

What is the Defence Lab Virtual HQ?

Simply put, the Virtual HQ is an online training resource and introduction to Defence Lab from Andy and the crew. The HQ is broken down into various folders and sections including weekly investigations, architectural framework and primal reactions. All of these areas are shown and explained by Andy and his elite team. New videos are added every week, giving you time to rep and drill the previous week’s material and giving you an overall feel and sense of the professional, yet effective system of Defence Lab.

Who is it for?

Honestly – The Virtual HQ is for anyone with even a passing interest in martial arts, self defence or fitness training. No matter what style or background you come from, there is something here for you. The beauty of Defence Lab is that is never stops. It is constantly developing and evolving with the times. 1 on 1, Defence Lab cover it. Multiple attackers? Covered. Sticks, knives, bats? Covered! You name it, Defence Lab cover it and this is why the Virtual HQ is going to be such a fantastic and ever developing resource for the martial arts and wider community.

What makes it different?

Defence Lab are not the first to release online videos or courses, yet they are the first to do it in such a professional and well developed manner. The videos are shot in high definition and thorough explanations are given by Andy as to why Defence Lab do what they do. Andy provokes you into thinking for yourself, questioning the system and therefore opening your mind to new information – something that martial artists are not always too willing to do! The overall look, feel and content of the Virtual HQ is something I have never seen before in terms of professionalism, content and general style and this really will be something that will revolutionise the martial arts world and make people stand up and take notice.

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When is it available?

The Virtual HQ from Defence Lab will be going live on Tuesday 18th October and Defence Lab have already started releasing sneak peaks and teasers through their social media channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To register your interest in Defence Lab’s Virtual HQ, please head over to their main site to keep up to date with the latest information and follow them on social media at the links below.

www.defencelab.com/VirtualHQ

www.twitter.com/DefenceLabHQ

www.instagram.com/defencelab_hq

www.facebook.com/DefenceLabOfficial

The Virtual HQ is going to be something very special and you do not want to miss out. I cannot put into words how awesome the Virtual HQ is in terms of look, feel and content and this is a must have resource for anyone interested in martial arts or personal safety. So go ahead, follow Defence Lab and sign up for more info on the resource centre that will revolutionise Martial Arts.

VHQ PreLaunch image24 1024x576 The Defence Lab Virtual HQ!

Warriors Assemble Fighting Spirit Awards 2016

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It’s nearly that time of the year again – The Warriors Assemble Fighting Spirit Awards 2016!

This is the second year for this ground breaking and inspirational Award Ceremony, Warriors Assemble, celebrating the very best of human nature and fighting spirit within the Martial Arts.


The idea for the awards evening came to organizer Anthony Pillage after attending yet another Awards/Hall of Fame Dinner where people who have disabilities seemed to generally get ignored. Anthony put out a request for nominations and all of a sudden we had the making of an amazing evening.


We were inundated with incredible tales of people who have overcome huge obstacles and problems to further their love of their chosen art.


Over 25 Awards were presented with over 300 people in attendance. There were one armed cage fighters, black belts with leukemia, one legged Judoka, kids with Aspergers, kickboxing teachers with cerebral palsy. a blind karate sensei and so many more wonderful people who were just completely inspirational. There was at times hardly a dry eye in the house as one by one these martial artists shared their story’s, maybe many for the first time to people who actually wanted to listen.

“I wouldn’t miss this event for the world, it is both grounding and uplifting and leaves you with a sense of being privileged to have been in the company of these men, women and children who are indeed the very essence and deserving of the title Warriors, having shown and continuing to show great vigor and courage in the face of struggle and conflict within their lives and their martial arts training” Jenni Mills

This year we have a new category called the Cornerstone Award which is for those wonderful people who tirelessly support those in their training both in a support or teaching role.

Last year’s event was phenomenal and I have no doubt that this one will be the same, please support this event and show those people YOU KNOW within your martial arts community, that they matter! If you know of anyone you feel you would like to see nominated for an award or to buy a ticket , please call Tony Pillage on 02476 331239. This event is open to EVERYONE and anyone can nominate.

Martial Masters Volume 1

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We have a release date everyone! Martial Masters Vol. 1 will be available in kindle and print version as of the 1st December 2016, just in time for Christmas. Featuring legends such a Bob Breen, Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty and Andy Norman, Martial Masters provides an insight into their lives and their philosophies and thoughts on martial arts and self defence.

Each interview is unique – funny, harrowing, sad, inspirational and will soon become a must have for anyone with even a passing interest in martiala arts or self defence. Pr-orders will be available in November so reserve yours now!

It’s been a long road to get it to publishing but we’re there and can’t wait to have it in our hands, ready to share with you guys!

As always thank you for the support and hope you’re all excited to read this book! I had an awesome time interviewing everyone for it, hope you have an awesome time reading about it too!

Check out our piece in Martial Arts Guardians soon!

 

 

Martial Masters Interview

Myself and Lucci were lucky enough to be interviewed by the awesome Vic from MA Roadshow at this year’s Martial Arts Show for our upcoming book Martial Masters! The book will feature some of the best martial artists from the UK from all realms including sports, traditional and self defence! There are just a couple more interviews to get done, the some editing then it’s off to the publishers and ready for you guys to enjoy!

Check out our interview below!

Simple Self Defence

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Writing a post on self defence is bound to open up a massive can of worms with people chipping in from those who have experienced real world violence, all the way to the ever present keyboard warrior calling themselves an expert in self defence. This post won’t focus on the perfect technique to defend against a big haymaker, or the best way to escape being choked. We’ll look at one simple tip – leave if you can. Sounds simple right…

Violence is chaotic and as a result of this it is unpredictable and ever changing meaning:

It can come from nowhere

Things can seem calm until, out of the blue they aren’t any more. You take a second to process and the fear and adrenaline kick in and it could all be over by then. That split second could mean someone is lying down unconscious after being sucker punched and the attacker is maybe being held back by a few people? Sound a familiar situation? I’ve certainly seen this before!

There’s no time limit for self defence

Like the scenario above, fights can be over in a split second, one punch and it’s done. Alternatively, a fight can take one minute, 5 minutes or even 10 minutes or longer. There is no way of knowing.

Violence moves

Violence is not a static thing. You could think you’re out of harms way one second, then BAM, the fight has come to you and you are forced to take action. I’ve seen this happen on numerous dance floors where for a minute you think you’re out of the way then suddenly you’re being pushed into the bar and people are fighting around you! Not nice!

Bystanders aren’t always out of the firing line

As in the situation previously, you may not even be the one fighting, yet before you know it you’re in the middle of a group that are and as a result, taking a few shots yourself. If you’re near a fight, you’re at risk. I remember my housemate at University being sucker punched just due to the fact we were too close to a fight and we got inadvertantly dragged in.

Even if the fight is over, you’re not necessarily safe

A fight can end but then just as quickly start up again with the wrong comment or look, especially if the loser is trying to get even!

Make sense?

This all makes sense right? yet as soon as a fight breaks out, people rush to it like 14 year olds at a Harry Styles sighting, or David Cameron at a pig farm. People take out their phones to record the fight, later uploading it to social media for the world to see. We like watching extreme situations, the Jeremy Kyle Show is testament to that, even if it puts us at risk. We can also learn new behaviours however, and that’s why sometimes the simplest advice can be to simply leave the situation if possible, rather than going in for a cheeky look!

5 things we love about Martial Arts

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Many of us who have studied martial arts, especially for a reasonable length of time will find that it becomes more than a hobby but rather, a passion. It gets to the point where it becomes a way of life and we eat, sleep and train martial arts. We train and research martial arts, we socialise with other martial artists and we invest both time and money in getting better at the martial arts. There is an endless list of things we all love about the martial arts, but here are my top 5!

Training

This one is pretty obvious right? We all love to train. We love getting on the mats, getting a sweat on and trying to decipher and work out the great big puzzle that is martial arts. It’s a great feeling when we leave a class sweating, smiling and wanting more, hoping that we’ve managed to slot another piece of the puzzle in. No matter what discipline we train in, we sometimes get those eureka moments where a technique just feels right or suddenly it just makes sense. Granted, you can have one, then have to wait for years for the next one, but hey that’s part of the fun right? We get on the mat to train, to get fitter, to learn self defence, or as a form of therapy, but regardless of the reason we train, we do it for one overriding factor – we love it!

Research

As we progress up the grades and delve into the martial arts further, we may start doing a little more research on our chosen martial art, and indeed other martial arts too. There’s a wealth of information out there on a wealth of different martial arts and if we look closely enough we begin to see that many of the martial arts have similarities. Judo will have some similarities to wrestling, boxing to jeet kune do as at the end of the day we have two legs and two arms and there are only so many ways to punch, kick and throw. Body mechanics and the physics of martial arts remain the same regardless of whether the style is Chinese, Japanese or Reality-Based. The more research we do the more we see these similarities.

Research can also mean tracing the history and lineage of the martial arts which can be fascinating it itself. Finding the roots and origins of your martial art and the main pioneers and their histories can take years and give you a great insight into what they wanted their martial arts to become. So get researching, it’s fun!

Therapy

Had a bad day at the office or your girlfriend/boyfriend/cat is giving you the silent treatment? Martial arts can be a great way of letting out some aggression in a controlled environment, getting a sweat on and basically doing a form of therapy. Getting on the mats, smashing some pads with friends and having a great class where you feel you’ve learnt something can change your mood from shit to great in as little as an hour, such is the power of a great martial arts class!

Progression

Let’s face it, we all like to feel we are improving, learning new skills and developing as humans. This is where the martial arts are great and gives you very clear goals through a structured grading system. Some people don’t like grading systems, others do. I like them as it gives a clear goal to work towards and something tangible to attain e.g. a belt or a band. There’s also grading days where you can show you skills off in front of friends, family and of course, the instructor! Martial arts gives a clear progression and path up to black grade then up from there and this is one of the things I like most about it!

The people

The number one thing I like in the martial arts is the people and the friendships I have made. Martial artists seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they’re the most open people ever, willing to give you everything they know and genuinely passionate about the martial arts and developing people. Or they’re dicks. Dicks in that they’re in it for the money, want you to only train with them and have a 15th degree black belt in bullshit-jitsu. I’ve met some truly fantastic martial artists and truly fantastic people on my journey so far such as Eddie Quinn, Andy Norman, Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty & Scott Caldwell among many others. These guys are at the top of their game yet there is no ego, they just want to impart knowledge and get the best from their students. This is what I love most about the martial arts – the friendships you make. It’s a special kind of friendship where you regularly hurt each other and spend worrying amounts of time in compromising positions as you grapple on the floor and I wouldn’t change it!

So tell me….what do you love most about the martial arts?